Saturday, April 7, 2012

When Recipes Become Yours

It’s going to be a lazy day and I feel like puttering I the kitchen. Before I head to the gym for my usual early morning workout, I pull together a small grocery list so I can swing by my favourite grocers on the way home.

Cynthia Liedtke is Editorial Assistant for Health & Lifestyle Magazine ( and she sent me a few copies of her magazine. It’s a purse-size magazine focused on wellness with inspiring interviews of celebrities and their health struggles like Clara Hughes battle with depression and Lisa Ray’s challenges with a rare form of blood cancer. There is a deluge of information from both traditional and alternative specialists on natural health products, diets, lifestyle issues and of course food.

Flipping through the magazines, the recipe that caught my eye was the Beluga Lentils with Porcini Mushrooms, Asparagus and a Sunny Egg. It came from the featured cookbook, The Eat-Clean Diet, Vegetarian Cookbook by Tosca Reno. The photo looked downright delicious and I just had to have it. So I begin.

Shopping didn’t go so well, couldn’t find beluga lentils anywhere so I settled for red. From the picture in the book it looks like there’s a huge difference, but I’m moving ahead anyway. I read the package directions for the lentils and end up with a very bland orange pudding. The starch on these little, overlooked lentils just took over. In the garbage that batch goes and I start again.

This time the lentils are cooked with bay leaves, a clove of garlic and lots of salted water for only 5 minutes instead of the 20 minutes recommended. The lentils are al dente and all looks good to go.

I took some dried porcini mushrooms and soaked them in boiling water for the recommended 5 minutes. Next I drained them and the recipe instructions said, “cook until lightly browned”. Well, there’s no darker brown than the colour of hydrated porcini mushrooms. I put them in a dry sauté pan and let the remaining water steam off them. Nice and dry, I added some extra virgin olive oil, minced, fresh garlic and dried thyme. It began to sizzle and as I stirred I could see how these mushrooms were absorbing all the wonderful flavours in the pan – yum, I added them to the cooled red lentils in a bowl.

The recipe calls for asparagus to be cooked separately but I’m not a fan of all that fuss so I cleaned them, cut them up and cooked them in the same skillet as the mushrooms and tossed them into the salad. The recipe didn’t call for any salt or pepper but again, I took the liberty and seasoned it.

Ok, now the egg, well I never did cook any, I guess the family was just too hungry or the salad was just so good there was simply not enough time to cook an egg. I think it was the later.

Like all good recipes, they’re guidelines and if you dare to adventure into them, they eventually become yours just by adapting it to your needs and likes. I will hunt for Beluga lentils though; it just looked so delicious in the magazine - although mine doesn’t look that bad either.

Btw, The Eat-Clean Diet made the New York Times best-selling list and it’s promoted as a must for anyone wanting to lose weight, help the planet or just spice things up a bit. I’ll probably pick it up next time I’m in the book store. Thanks Cynthia, I can see this becoming a delicious and long friendship.

Click for the original recipe,
Click for more photos,

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